Daily Tech Digest - May 26, 2022

4 Reasons to Shift Left and Add Security Earlier in the SDLC

Collaboration is critical for the security and development teams, especially when timelines have to change. The security operations center (SOC) team may need to train on cloud technologies and capabilities, while the cloud team may need help understanding how the organization performs risk management. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of these teams and the security functions each fulfill is critical to managing security risks. In some scenarios, security teams can act as enablers for cloud engineering, teaching teams how to be self-sufficient in performing threat-modeling exercises. In other situations, security teams can act as escalation paths during security incidents. Last, security teams can also own and operate underlying platforms or libraries that provide contextual value to more stream-oriented cloud engineering teams, such as IAC scanning capabilities, shared libraries for authentication and monitoring, and support of workloads constructs, such as secure service meshes.

We have bigger targets than beating Oracle, say open source DB pioneers

The pitching of open source against Oracle's own proprietary database has shifted as the market has moved on and developers lead a database strategy building a wide range of applications in the cloud, rather than a narrower set of business applications. Zaitsev pointed out that if you look at the rankings on DB-Engines, which combines mentions, job ads and social media data, Oracle is always the top RDBMS. But a Stack Overflow survey would not even in put Oracle in the top five. So as developers are concerned, the debate about whether Oracle is the enemy is over. "The reality is, the majority of developers — especially good developers — prefer open source," he said. ... "There's a lot of companies now who are basically saying, 'Forget the Oracle API, I want to standardise on the PostgreSQL API.' They don't even want a non-PostgreSQL API because they see it is a growing market and opportunity with additional cost savings, flexibility, and continual innovation," he said, also speaking at Percona Live. "Years ago, if you had to rewrite your application from Oracle to PostgreSQL, that was a negative, that was a cost to you. ..."

Ultrafast Computers Are Coming: Laser Bursts Drive Fastest-Ever Logic Gates

The researchers’ advances have opened the door to information processing at the petahertz limit, where one quadrillion computational operations can be processed per second. That is almost a million times faster than today’s computers operating with gigahertz clock rates, where 1 petahertz is 1 million gigahertz. “This is a great example of how fundamental science can lead to new technologies,” says Ignacio Franco, an associate professor of chemistry and physics at Rochester who, in collaboration with doctoral student Antonio José Garzón-Ramírez ’21 (PhD), performed the theoretical studies that lead to this discovery. ... The ultrashort laser pulse sets in motion, or “excites,” the electrons in graphene and, importantly, sends them in a particular direction—thus generating a net electrical current. Laser pulses can produce electricity far faster than any traditional method—and do so in the absence of applied voltage. Further, the direction and magnitude of the current can be controlled simply by varying the shape of the laser pulse (that is, by changing its phase).

A computer cooling breakthrough uses a common material to boost power 740 percent

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) have recently devised an invention that could cool down electronics more efficiently than other alternative solutions and enable a 740 percent increase in power per unit, according to a press release by the institutions published Thursday. Tarek Gebrael, the lead author of the new research and a UIUC Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering, explained that current cooling solutions have three specific problems. "First, they can be expensive and difficult to scale up," he said. He brought up the example of heat spreaders made of diamonds which are obviously very expensive. Second, he described how conventional heat spreading approaches generally place the heat spreader and a heat sin (a device for dissipating heat efficiently) on top of the electronic device. Unfortunately, "in many cases, most of the heat is generated underneath the electronic device," meaning that the cooling mechanism isn't where it is needed most.

Tech firms are making computer chips with human cells – is it ethical?

Cortical Labs believes its hybrid chips could be the key to the kinds of complex reasoning that today’s computers and AI cannot produce. Another start-up making computers from lab-grown neurons, Koniku, believes their technology will revolutionise several industries including agriculture, healthcare, military technology and airport security. Other types of organic computers are also in the early stages of development. While silicon computers transformed society, they are still outmatched by the brains of most animals. For example, a cat’s brain contains 1,000 times more data storage than an average iPad and can use this information a million times faster. The human brain, with its trillion neural connections, is capable of making 15 quintillion operations per second. This can only be matched today by massive supercomputers using vast amounts of energy. The human brain only uses about 20 watts of energy, or about the same as it takes to power a lightbulb. It would take 34 coal-powered plants generating 500 megawatts per hour to store the same amount of data contained in one human brain in modern data storage centres.

SolarWinds: Here's how we're building everything around this new cybersecurity strategy

Now, SolarWinds uses a system of parallel builds, where the location keeps changing, even after the project has been completed and shipped. Much of this access is only provided on a need-to-know basis. That means if an attacker was ever able to breach the network, there's a smaller window to poison the code with a malicious build. "What we're really trying to achieve from a security standpoint is to reduce the threat window, providing the least amount of time possible for a threat actor to inject malware into our code," said Ramakrishna. But changing the process of how code is developed, updated and shipped isn't going to help prevent cyberattacks alone, which is why SolarWinds is now investing heavily in many other areas of cybersecurity. These areas include the likes of user training and actively looking for potential vulnerabilities in networks. Part of this involved building up a red team, cybersecurity personnel who have the job of testing network defences and finding potential flaws or holes that could be abused by attackers – crucially before the attackers find them.

How to stop your staff ignoring cybersecurity advice

While regular reminders are great, if you deliver the same message repeatedly, there is a danger that staff will zone out and ultimately become disengaged with the process. We’ve seen clear evidence of this over the past year, with awareness of key phrases falling, sometimes significantly. In this year’s State of the Phish Report, just over half (53%) of users could correctly define phishing, down from 63% the previous year. Recognition also fell across common terms like malware (down 2%) and smishing (down 8%). Ransomware(opens in new tab) was the only term to see an increase in understanding, yet only 36% could correctly define the term. ... Cybersecurity training may not sound like most people’s idea of fun, but there are plenty of ways to keep it positive and even enjoyable. Deliver training in short sharp models, and don’t be afraid to use different approaches such as animation or humor if it fits well into your company culture. Making security training competitive and turning it into a game can also aid the process. The gamification of training modules has been shown to increase engagement and motivation, as well as improving attainment scores in testing.

Why are current cybersecurity incident response efforts failing?

A risk-based approach to incident response enables enterprises to prioritize vulnerabilities and incidents based on the level of risk they pose to an organization. The simplest way of framing risk is a calculation on frequency of occurrence and severity. Malware frequently reaches endpoints, and response and clean-up can cost thousands of dollars (both directly and in lost productivity). Furthermore – and security teams all over the world would agree on this – vulnerabilities on internet-facing systems must be prioritized and remediated first. Those systems are continuously under attack, and as the rate of occurrence starts to approach infinity, so does risk. Similarly, there have been many threat groups that have costed enterprises millions directly, and in some cases tens of millions in lost operations and ERP system downtime. Large enterprises measure the cost of simple maintenance windows in ERP systems in tens of millions. Thus, it’s difficult to imagine the substantial calculations on a business-critical application breach. As severity increases to that order of magnitude, so does risk.

3 Must-Have Modernization Competencies for Application Teams

To decide the best path forward, leverage Competency #1. Architects and decision-makers should begin with automated architectural assessment tools to assess the technical debt of their monolithic applications, accurately identify the source of that debt, and measure its negative impact on innovation. These insights will help teams early in the cloud journey to determine the best strategy moving forward. Using AI-based modernization solutions, architects can exercise Competency #2 and automatically transform complex monolithic applications into microservices — using both deep domain-driven observability via a passive JVM agent and sophisticated static analysis‚ by analyzing flows, classes, usage, memory and resources to detect and unearth critical business domain functions buried within a monolith. Whether your application is still on-premises or you have already lifted and shifted to the cloud (Competency #3), the world’s most innovative organizations are applying vFunction on their complex “megaliths” to untangle complex, hidden and dense dependencies for business-critical applications that often total over 10 million lines of code and consist of thousands of classes.

The surprising upside to provocative conversations at work

To be sure, supporting and encouraging sensitive conversations isn’t easy. However, leaders can create the right conditions by establishing norms, offering resources, and helping ensure that these conversations happen in safe environments, with ground rules about avoiding judgment or trying to persuade people to change their minds. Critically, employees should always have the option to just show up and listen to better understand how colleagues are impacted by something happening in the world. The objective of these conversations should definitely not be to reach solutions or generate consensus. In that way, fostering these conversations is a growth opportunity for senior executives as well, who are often much more comfortable in problem-solving mode. The leader’s role here is to help the company bring meaning, humanity, and social impact to the workforce—not to deliver answers. The main takeaway for senior leaders is that you can’t isolate employees from the issues of the world. You can, however, help them sort through those issues and create a more welcoming, inclusive environment in which people are free to be their authentic selves—and maybe even learn from their colleagues.

Quote for the day:

"Cream always rises to the top...so do good leaders" -- John Paul Warren

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